Knowledge Fund supports CoLab Esports Innovation Lab Project

August 26, 2020

CARSON CITY, Nev. – The CoLab Esports Innovation Lab Project being developed at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) International Gaming Institute’s Hospitality and Esports Labs is the latest example of Las Vegas rising to the challenge.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s (GOED) Knowledge Fund investment in the CoLab Esports Innovation Lab Project between Rainmaking and the International Gaming Institute’s (IGI) Hospitality and Esports Labs is the first of its kind and a major step in funding development in the hospitality and gaming industries post-COVID-19 pandemic era.

“GOED’s funding is perfectly placed to leverage the explosive demand for online entertainment and esports with the pressing need for real-world revenue and economic recovery for Nevada’s most significant industry,” said Michael Brown, GOED executive director. “This Knowledge Fund project combines strengthening Nevada’s gaming and hospitality sector and ensures that this industry in which Nevada has enjoyed a global competitive advantage for decades will stay ahead and continue to thrive, which in these challenging times is more important than ever.”

Rainmaking is an outstanding innovation and development firm with a strong history of commercialization of intellectual property (IP) to specific vertical industries. Rainmaking’s unique approach is to work directly with industry representatives to understand the types of problems that – when solved through entrepreneurial and innovative thinking – result in immediate economic development activity.

“We are excited to get the CoLab started and to unleash the power and ingenuity of relevant growth stage startups to uncover new growth opportunities within hospitality and gaming,” said Katie Lewis, COO, Rainmaking. “We are committed to redefine innovation, with a proven data-driven formula that acts as a lever for new revenue opportunities and proactive plans-of-action.”

The collaboration funded by the GOED Knowledge Fund will enable not only entrepreneurial activity precisely targeted at helping Nevada’s largest industry in a post-pandemic recovery scenario but will also produce revenue through commercialization of these highly targeted innovative projects developed in the CoLab.
“GOED has identified Rainmaking as an ideal project partner for UNLV and brought the two sides together at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES),” said Karsten Heise, GOED Director of Strategic Programs. “Rainmaking’s theme-based innovation program for mature markets called Co-creation Lab (CoLab) is a perfect fit for taking Knowledge Fund support for the International Gaming Institute to the next level while staying true to the Knowledge Fund’s focus on increasing the development of novel marketable solutions enabling the formation and growth of companies and high paying job creation. Rainmaking-CoLab’s strong track record including a co-creation engagement approach which optimizes access to the right expertise, fosters highly effective partnerships, and delivers targeted results will be of great benefit to UNLV’s IGI and leading to highly tangible outcomes of this Knowledge Fund project supporting Nevada’s core industry in times of great volatility but also substantial opportunity.”
The initiative is being directed by the International Gaming Institute’s Director of Hospitality Lab and Esports Lab, Robert Rippee, with Lewis, and with direct oversight and involvement by Bo Bernhard, Executive Director of the IGI, and Zach Miles, UNLV Associate Vice President for Economic Development.

“Las Vegas is famous for constantly re-inventing its offerings, and as the world pivots to online-oriented entertainment experiences, this Rainmaking partnership will enable our labs to develop the next generation of reinventors,” Bernhard said.

All parties involved share the position that this extraordinary partnership between the IGI and Rainmaking, along with the redevelopment of the Hospitality Lab’s fall semester syllabus toward post-pandemic technology and IP development, are powerful initiatives on the part of GOED and the Knowledge Fund to directly support Nevada’s economy and its most significant industry.


About the Governor’s Office of Economic Development

Created during the 2011 session of the Nevada Legislature, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is the result of a collaborative effort between the Nevada Legislature and the Governor’s Office to restructure economic development in the state. GOED’s role is to promote a robust, diversified and prosperous economy in Nevada, to stimulate business expansion and retention, encourage entrepreneurial enterprise, attract new businesses and facilitate community development. More information on the Governor’s Office of Economic Development can be viewed at


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